Space... the final frontier... the great blackness... a span of infinite cliched nothingness. And you have the urge to zipadeedoodah your atoms across the aforementioned inky void. So far we've been subjected to the likes of Elite and Ringwars, and now here's another intergalactic space trading, alien-ionising game to contend with - Wanderer.
And it's in 3D.
But it's not your average shandy-drinking isometric effort, or indeed the normal shoulderpad-wearing vector graphic jobbies - this is the real thing. A true 3D our of your screen and into your lap experience. You even receive a pair of those zany red blue spectacles to wear while playing.
You play Wanderer, cosmic mercenary, playboy and philanderer with a reputation (when he's in orbit, lock up your daughters and your chickens). He's been hired to destroy Vadd, a sort of intergalactic space tyrant cum futuristic Thatcher figure, and his army of War Drones. One problem though - the Wanderer has already proved himself a dab hand with the ladies, but when it comes to interstellar combat he's less than impressive. So, in order to roast Vadd's butt (as it were), he has to trade and obtain enough money to buy a Disruptor, and then enter the Vadd Sector, but if he gets a Quadmag he can enter a black hole. Well, something along those lines anyway.
There are ten planets, three black holes, and numerous space sectors. These are represented on a gridded map. Your movement is restricted to one sector per go until your proficiency rating has increased. This is done by cutting great radioactive swathes through the opposition and doing it with the minimum number of shots.
When you reach a planet (after warping across the galaxy) you take control of a gun turret and have to cut a few neighbouring war drones into small, three by six, cube shaped pieces before you are allowed to trade.
The trading system is quite clever. The planet has a 'hand' of five symbols, which are basically a futuristic version of poker cards, you have the symbols you gained by vaping the enemy. The aim is to improve the planet's hand by swapping one or two of yours. An improvement runs along the lines of normal poker hands, like three of a kind, a run, two pairs and so on. The better you make a planet's hand the more dosh you make, and your goal is 8000 creds.
Space is the same as it's always been. A mass of oncoming pixels and very little else. Enemy craft enter the vacuum and can be manoeuvred on screen by consulting the two scanners. As there's no target or sights you have to align the enemy up in your imagination, pump on the fire button, and pray for the best. And if that fails then running head on into them normally does the biz.
I was very dubious about the game on the first load.The vector graphics, by today's standards, are very primitive and basic and slow. Even the trading system seemed to be beyond my grasp - not that I'm thick or anything (cough). But I was pleasantly surprised by the 3D effect - it worked quite well. Not that I was ducking and diving to avoid fragments of blasted aliens as they popped out of the screen or anything, it was just good, but it did slow the game down a bit more. Gradually though I warmed to the game, especially when I got my nodules around cosmic poker playing.
Seemingly naff space trading game which really begins to glow when you turn on the 3D effect.